If you have ever pored over photographer Shoichi Aoki’s Fruits books, which depict cool Japanese kids showing off outlandish styles in the Shibuya streets, you’re probably already in love with the Spank! Girls. This group of Tokyo-based 20-somethings has three shops where they sling secondhand clothes alongside original designs that celebrate the sweetest and cutest pop detritus of 1980s America; Popples, My Little Pony, JEM, Barbie, Michellefrom Full House, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper are all inspirations. As 26-year-old proprietor Tabuchi Sayuri puts it, “A girl with the pink heart is unrivaled!”
In May 2004, Sayuri opened her first store, Spank!, in Tokyo’s Koenji region, which is home to a plethora of secondhand shops. In July 2006, she opened two more shops: Spank Me! in Shibuya and Chelsea in Nagoya (which will reopen soon in another location). A band of merry hipstresses serve as staff, dishing out fashion advice and making unique garments under brand names like Monascas Banana and Crazy Bunny.
The Spank! Girls also throw their own raucous parties, where Sayuri and the manager of Spank Me! play records–favorite artists include Helen Love, Le Tigre, Nikki and the Corvettes, Gravy Train!!!, and Toxic Lipstick–while the other girls don leotards and dance. Not surprisingly, they have also formed a band and hope to perform live soon.
Sayuri also aspires to sell their original creations overseas, a reasonable goal considering the current renewed interest in Japanese street style. With the recent release of Tiffany Godoy’s book Style Deficit Disorder: Street Fashion Tokyo (in which the Spank! Girls are featured) and the Fruits-inspired documentary DVD Tokyo Streets, it appears Japan’s extreme street fashion can still intrigue and amuse the rest of the planet.